The value of human connection in customer service

human connectionWould you trust a chatbot to give your customers personalized advice? Would you trust a chatbot to give you personalized advice? With the dramatic rise in artificial intelligence over the past year, this is a question many people are asking themselves.

Customers desire convenience and understanding — the convenience of information and an understanding of their individual needs and unique situations. But is AI capable of delivering this kind of customer service?

While there’s a significant trend to leverage AI in customer service, chatbots aren’t necessarily made for superior customer care. Although chatbots have gotten better over the years — from the release (and quick death) of Facebook’s “M” in 2015 to the now very thorough and comprehensive ChatGPT — the “chatbot vs. human” discussion still stands. And we believe human representatives are always better.

The disadvantages of chatbots in customer service

Let’s talk chatbot problems. The core issue seems to be a lack of empathy. AI systems struggle to apply human judgment, creativity, and critical thinking to situations; it’s the nature of how they’re built. Chatbots are trained on common scenarios and programmed inputs. When faced with rare or new customer issues, they can sometimes respond inappropriately or “hallucinate” answers. And unsurprisingly, customers don’t appreciate getting incomplete responses or being led down an infinite loop of redirection and frustration. AI chatbots simply cannot exhibit the sensitivity customers need and deserve because they fail to see matters within their appropriate social and cultural contexts.

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The impact? Customers are losing patience and trust in chatbots. According to a survey conducted by Morning Consult, only 10% of consumers trust generative AI solutions like ChatGPT. This is a big concern, especially for hospitality and tourism organizations that may lean heavily on AI systems for customer service.

Benefits of human connection

So, is AI terrible? Should you never use it for customer service? Not at all. The way to bypass customer service challenges in the future (and present) is to always have human agents as your first touchpoint. Although chatbots can be good at assisting people who just need information, they’re unable to deal with real human needs. Humans are just too complex. For this reason, human service and support representatives will always have the upper hand over their AI counterparts. Let’s take a look at all the benefits humans can provide to the customer service experience.

  1. Humans have the power of discernment.

A human representative can spot unique situations and behave accordingly, whereas computers are programmed to follow rules without exceptions. Discernment for individual situations is critical when 52% of consumers say they’ve stopped dealing with certain brands because of lackluster communication.

  1. Humans have the power to accommodate.

Humans instinctively display empathy and are willing to advocate for the people they talk with. If someone is upset about a travel hiccup (e.g., lost luggage, late flight, etc.), a human agent can identify the feelings associated with those experiences and make judgment calls to issue drink tickets, restaurant credits, or room upgrades.

  1. Humans can increase customer satisfaction through unique discounts.

Humans have the ability to amplify the customer experience by offering discounts and partnering with other complementary companies. By having offers available, human representatives can create memorable touchpoints to increase customer satisfaction — something chatbots just can’t do. Consider the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton. They offer free chocolate chip cookies upon arrival, creating a buzz on social media for their coveted recipe.

  1. Humans can offer personalized care.

People want to feel understood. Humans can offer free care items that are personalized to individual preferences. This might include linens laundered in allergen-free detergents or allergy-friendly or sugar-free food options.

The future of customer service lies in human connection

If you’re in the hospitality industry, you can’t afford to leave your customer service experience to chance. While adding AI to your toolkit is fine, think twice before turning all consumer interactions over to chatbots. While chatbots aren’t inherently bad, they will never be able to replace the unique care humans can provide through emotional intelligence. Your AI chatbot is your teammate, not your replacement.


Tags: Customer Service, human connection

Founder and CEO, Xchange of America

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